Candida parapsilosis

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1. Description and significance

Candida parapsilosis is a fungal species that is responsible for several diseases states in humans [1]. Among the many microbes found on human hands, C. parapsilosis is amidst the most prevalent fungal species [2]. This species is known to cause sepsis in those with compromised immune systems, neonates, intensive care patients, individuals with implanted devices, and individuals who have just recently undergone gastrointestinal surgery [2]. Researchers have found that as much as eight to fifteen percent of all infections procured by patients in hospitals have been attributed to C. parapsilosis [1]. Because of the lack of understanding about this taxon’s virulence mechanisms, treatment is difficult and not always effective [3]. It is therefore crucial for future research to focus on understanding the signaling pathways involved in infection and how these pathways are regulated since they are not well understood.

2. Classification

a. Higher order taxa

C. parapsilosis is a fungus belonging to the phylum Ascomycota [4]. C. parapsilosis is a member of the class Saccharomycetes and the order Saccharomycetales which are most commonly known as budding yeasts, meaning they can reproduce asexually through the process of mitosis when nutrients are abundant and sexually through production of haploid cells in meiosis when nutrients are not abundant [4][5]. C. parapsilosis is a member of the family Debaryomycetaceae, which are commonly associated with the yeast’s use of pseudohyphae to grow [4][6]. C. parapsilosis is a part of the genus Candida, which is most well known for its ability to cause disease in humans [7]. C. parapsilosis is also a member of the CTG clade, along with C. albicans, meaning that their CTG codon encodes for serine and not leucine [7].

3. Genome structure

Concrete information on the genomic structure of C. parapsilosis has yet to be discovered. Due to the availability of only one small sequence of the fungus’ whole genome sequence, knowledge about its genomic diversity is scarce [8]. According to the available portion of the sequence, the fungus contains mostly uncharacterized open reading frames (ORFs), making up about 98.95% of the protein-coding genes [9]. The rest of the genes code for rRNA, tRNA, and pseudogenes, which make up 1.05% of its protein-coding genes. It is also known that the majority of genes responsible for molecular function use hydrolase activity, they are most abundant in the cytoplasm, and are used for the regulation of biological processes [9]. Although other characteristics such as the G+C content and the total number of genes in the genome are still unavailable, a recent study points to the possibility of genomic variation within C. parapsilosis. Researchers used whole genome sequencing to analyze three sample strains of the fungus [8]. Compared to a control reference strain of C. parapsilosis, the three sample strains showed similar genetic characteristics in addition to high variation regions within each sequence. The strains contained many ALS genes that code for cell-surface glycoproteins, which varied slightly across all three samples [8]. The discovery of the differences in these abundant ALS genes indicate that C. parapsilosis is capable of genetic recombination, resulting in high variability within the genome of each strain. Although researchers in this study were able to isolate strains, C. parapsilosis isolates are known for being genetically non-differentiable, and often need to be interpreted through advanced bioinformatic systems [8]. Additionally, C. parapsilosis contains many repetitive sequences within the one section of its genome that has been sequenced. This is another complication that researchers face when trying to sequence its entire genome. High copies of the same DNA sequences cannot be accurately assigned to a specific genomic location or function because they could have multiple roles within the entire genome [8].

4. Cell structure

C. parapsilosis primarily exists in a unicellular, budding state. However, it is also capable of forming pseudohyphae, which makes it appear to be dimorphic [1]. In the yeast phenotype, colonies appear smooth, and in the pseudohyphae phenotype the colonies appear concentric [1]. On a dextrose plate, C. parapsilosis forms white, creamy, shiny colonies composed of cylindrical cells [1]. Although the cellular composition of C. parapsilosis is not fully understood, it is suspected to be similar to a closely related species, Candida albicans [12]. The innermost layer of the cell wall is composed of chitin, a fibrous polysaccharide that enhances the rigidity of the membrane [12]. The outermost layer of the cell wall is covered in proteoglycans; specifically, mannose-rich arginine residues (N-linked mannans) and serine/threonine residues (O-linked mannans) [12]. N-linked and O-linked mannans play an important role in cell morphology, cell differentiation and host interactions. Loss of these mannans can dramatically reduce the virulence of C. parapsilosis [12].

5. Metabolic processes

Describe important sources of energy, electrons, and carbon (i.e. trophy) for the organism/organisms you are focusing on, as well as important molecules it/they synthesize(s).

6. Ecology

Habitat; symbiosis; contributions to the environment.

7. Pathology

C. parapsilosis is a pathogenic fungus that is easily spread within susceptible populations of humans and animals. The fungus causes sepsis, endocarditis, endophthalmitis, fungemia, peritonitis, and arthritis in humans. It is most commonly found on prosthetic devices, catheters, and other medical tools that are touched by healthcare workers [10]. The virulence of C. parapsilosis is increased by the its ability to form biofilms on these medical devices and grow from prolonged attachment [1]. Furthermore, the fungus can easily spread from healthcare worker to patient if thorough hand-washing is not performed prior to contact [10]. In the body, C. parapsilosis colonizes around the implanted device and attaches to mucosal surfaces nearby. Biofilm production serves as protection and makes the microbe resistant to antifungal medications [10]. This makes it difficult for natural immune cells to fight off the fungus since they are unable to attach onto the slippery surface of the biofilm. Thus, C. parapsilosis is ultimately responsible for causing post-surgical complications and premature death in susceptible populations. The most at-risk population of contracting an infection are neonatal patients, intensive care patients, and immunocompromised patients [1]. Unlike other Candida species, such as C. albicans, C. parapsilosis is not an obligate pathogen and only causes candidiasis in these specific populations [7]. C. parapsilosis can also affect the immune systems of animals in a similar manner. Animals can ingest the pathogen from soil, insects, and other environmental sources, leading to infection and death [10]. In addition to C. parapsilosis’ ability to defend itself against the immune response and antifungal medication, it is also able to hide from detection [11]. Histopathology signatures for C. parapsilosis are useful in identifying the fungus’ infectious pathway. However, they are not always detected upon screening [11]. In one study, blood and lung cultures of neonates who died from a C. parapsilosis infection were analyzed for any histopathological signatures. Upon autopsy and immunostaining, 61% of the population was found to have significant fungal presence, but only 14 out of the 187 neonates were initially diagnosed with a C. parapsilosis induced infection [11]. The overwhelming prevalence of C. parapsilosis in the majority of the studied population went undetected by normal screening methods, showing that C. parapsilosis infections often go underdiagnosed.

8. Current Research

Include information about how this microbe (or related microbes) are currently being studied and for what purpose

9. References

It is required that you add at least five primary research articles (in same format as the sample reference below) that corresponds to the info that you added to this page. [Sample reference] Faller, A., and Schleifer, K. "Modified Oxidase and Benzidine Tests for Separation of Staphylococci from Micrococci". Journal of Clinical Microbiology. 1981. Volume 13. p. 1031-1035.